Flashlight-hurling cop suspended
Police Chief Lloyd Evans suspended a veteran Park City officer on Thursday, finding that Nick Kingery violated Police Department rules when he hurled a flashlight through the back window of a moving car in January.
The chief refused to provide the dates of the suspension, citing personnel protections, but said Kingery had been on paid administrative leave from Jan. 11, the date of the incident, until Feb. 2. He will not be paid during the suspension, the chief said. Kingery returns to the Police Department on Feb. 10, the chief said, and will be assigned to desk duties until Evans clears him to return to patrols. Evans said he is unsure how long Kingery would be assigned to desk duties.
"There’s nothing in our policies or procedures that allows an officer to chuck a flashlight at a car," Evans said.
Kingery did not immediately return a message left on his Police Department voice mail.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in Wasatch County have been forwarded the case to screen for potential criminal charges. The Wasatch County Attorney’s Office said it had not received the case by Friday morning.
Prosecutors in Park City and Summit County withdrew themselves from the case because they frequently work with Kingery.
On Jan. 11, Rodney Badger, a heart doctor who splits time between Park City and Provo, was driving southbound, uphill, on Main Street after a Robert Earl Keen concert at Harry O’s when Kingery threw the flashlight.
Kingery was trying to stop Badger from driving through a roadblock set up while a car further south on Main Street was being towed. In a Thursday release, the Police Department said the street was closed at the intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue and said Badger allegedly failed to obey the roadblock. Badger was not ticketed then and Evans Thursday said he would not be cited.
The flashlight, which the police on Thursday said is 10 inches long and weighs 14.5 ounces, shattered the back window of the Audi A4. Nobody was injured but Badger said afterward he was "stunned" that Kingery threw the flashlight. He said he was unaware that the street was closed when he drove by at about 5 mph. He said no flares or pylons indicated the street was closed.
Badger on Friday praised the police chief’s actions against Kingery. He said he would have been "sick" if Kingery’s career had been ruined.
"I think Chief Evans did the exact right thing," Badger said.
He said Kingery "lost his temper" and he expects that prosecutors will bring criminal charges against the officer. Badger said he would testify against Kingery if the prosecution calls him as a witness if the officer stands trial.
"I think his behavior was wrong. We don’t want police officers out there carrying weapons who have anger-management issues," Badger said.
Evans said, in 2002, Kingery was "counseled" about his behavior but the chief refused to provide details of what prompted the 2002 action. He said City Hall employs a system of "progressive discipline" in which staffers are given opportunities to improve their conduct.
Evans said the flashlight incident did not warrant Kingery’s firing.
"Termination was not determined to be an action to be taken," he said.
Kingery, who is in his mid-50s, was an officer in West Valley City before arriving in Park City six years ago. In 2002, the FBI honored him for catching a man who held up Frontier Bank.
In the pursuit of William Jennings, Kingery fired three shots after the suspect flashed a pistol-grip hose nozzle. Kingery was cleared in the shooting after Robert Adkins, who was then the Summit County attorney, determined that the shots were justified.
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Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson toured Summit County’s vaccine clinic on Friday. Officials say the clinic can handle three times as many doses as it receives from the state.